FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew
Friday, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
The “Hell is Real” derby between Major League Soccer’s Ohio rivals is always worth checking out. Unfortunately, Cincinnati remains a bad team, and it’s no coincidence that $13 million striker Brenner hasn’t scored since his MLS debut.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's MLS schedule
Brazil vs. Argentina
Saturday, 8 p.m. (FS1, Univision 65, TUDN)
The most famous soccer rivalry in the Americas — not just South America, but both continents — is renewed on the grand stage of the Copa América final. Brazil will be favored, and not just because it has home-field advantage at Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracanã stadium. Led by Neymar, the Seleçao has played the best soccer of any team in the tournament. But Argentina will be the sentimental favorite as Lionel Messi tries to win a major trophy with his country for the first time in his career.
Argentina has looked good in stretches, but manager Lionel Scaloni has the team playing more defensively than it has to. The strategy bit his team in the semifinal against Colombia, which went to penalty kicks after Argentina gave up a second-half equalizer. Messi was spectacular, but he can’t win championships on his own. No one can, really, even though Messi stands forever in the shadow of the idea that Diego Maradona did. The rest of Maradona’s 1986 team was pretty good, too.
So is this Argentina squad, with talents including Lautaro Martínez, Alejandro “Papu” Gómez, and Ángel Di María. It’s time for them to put Messi on their backs and carry him to a title, after he has carried all of his country on his back for so long.
Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Saturday, 10 p.m. (FS1, Univision 65, TUDN)
Mexico is the overwhelming favorite to win the Gold Cup, in part because of its own talent and in part because the U.S. has sent a B-team to give the big stars a few weeks off. A lot of eyes will be on Efraín Álvarez, a 19-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy winger who was the subject of a major recruiting battle between the Americans and El Tri. His inclusion on this team is his official commitment to Mexico, to play with stars such as Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and Jesús “Tecatito” Corona.
England vs. Italy
Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision 65, TUDN)
You could feel the weight of 55 years of failure come off England’s collective shoulders when Harry Kane scored the semifinal winner against Denmark. But football hasn’t come all the way home yet, because England’s final opponent has been arguably the best team in the European Championship. Nicolò Barella, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa are among the reasons why Italy might just be favored in this matchup.
But England has the talent to win, starting with Raheem Sterling, the most outstanding player of the semifinal. If he can play that well in the final, the home crowd at Wembley Stadium — which will include plenty of Italian blue, to be sure — could see the Three Lions win their first title since 1966.
Portland Thorns vs. Gotham FC
Sunday, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
It so happens that both managers in the NWSL’s best game of the weekend, Portland’s Mark Parsons and Gotham’s Freya Coombe, are England natives. Forgive them if they sneak a few glances at the England-Italy score on the sideline while Sophia Smith and Midge Purce are trying to score for their respective clubs.
» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's NWSL schedule
Canada vs. Martinique
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. (FS1, Univision 65, TUDN)
Canada also let a lot of its marquee Europe-based players take the Gold Cup off. It was going to have Alphonso Davies on board, but he had to pull out after suffering an ankle injury this week in training camp. So the spotlight will shine on two up-and-coming attackers, Toronto FC’s Ayo Akinola (who chose Canada over the U.S.) and the New England Revolution’s Tajon Buchanan.
United States vs. Haiti
Sunday, 9 p.m. (FS1, Univision 65, TUDN)
Though the U.S. squad doesn’t have its big stars, it has enough players worth paying attention to. The list starts with goalkeeper Matt Turner, who can boost his stock in a big way if he can backstop the Americans to the final. Young strikers Daryl Dike, Nicholas Gioacchini, and Matthew Hoppe bring intrigue and the potential for entertainment. So does 19-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio, who has a line of European suitors offering big transfer fees to Sporting Kansas City.
El Salvador vs. Guatemala
Sunday, 10:30 p.m. (joined in progress on FS1, Univision 65 and TUDN, with live streaming on the networks‘ respective websites and apps)
What was to be the Gold Cup’s kickoff game got postponed a day after Curaçao had to withdraw due to a COVID-19 outbreak within its squad. Guatemala got called in as a replacement team based on recent results compared to other teams that didn’t qualify.
El Salvador has a few U.S.-based players to watch, including the Houston Dynamo’s Darwin Cerén and the Seattle Sounders’ Alex Roldan -- whose brother Cristian (also a Sounder) is on the U.S. team. Also keep an eye on 23-year-old forward Josh Pérez, a former U.S. youth national team starlet. His uncle Hugo is El Salvador’s manager, and was a U.S. World Cup player in 1990 and ‘94.
Jamaica vs. Suriname
Monday, 6:30 p.m. (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)
Led by the Union’s Andre Blake and Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey, Jamaica has the potential to go on a deep run in this Gold Cup. The Reggae Boyz’ opener will see Blake face a former Union teammate in Suriname midfielder Roland Alberg.
Costa Rica vs. Guadeloupe
Monday, 9 p.m. (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)
Guadeloupe is this Gold Cup’s Cinderella. It didn’t just beat Guatemala in qualifying, it did so on penalty kicks. Unfortunately, the Gwada Boys will get a rude welcome to the group stage from a Costa Rican squad led by Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, and Ronald Matarrita.